When You Feel Like Crying

Pastoral Reflection 

by Rev. Kelly Jane Caesar delivered on March 29, 2020

Jesus Wept. 

Read: John 11: 7- 44 

Even though he knows a miracle is to happen,  

even though he knows goodness is going to come,  

Jesus weeps. 

He doesn’t brush off the suffering and fix it right away, 

He pauses to be with us in the midst of our trials. 

In previous weeks I spoke about this time as a Desert Time – 

Void of normal comforts. 

A desert time of wandering towards the Promised Land of healing and wholeness. 

So we have this altar space with sand and desert colors. 

In previous weeks we spoke about ways God nourishes us in the desert – 

Through the water of grace and healing spit – each week filling a vase of water. 

This week our nourishment in the desert comes from the tears of Jesus.  

[pour water] 

When we are in a time of trial, a desert time before we have reached the Promised Land, 

Nourishment can come with tears.  

A good cry can provide the heart with a cleanse, a release of pain for a time. 

A good cry can help us acknowledge the difficulty of the time. 

Sometimes during trials we are told to “be strong” or “you’re so strong” – 

Yet, it is often at the very moment we don’t feel strong at all. 

A good cry is an acknowledgement that we don’t have it all together, that we are not in control, 

That we may not be as strong as others think or say we are. 

A good cry is, in essence, an act of submission to a powerful God – 

A good cry is a way of saying,  

“God, I don’t got this – please, help.” 

In this scripture we see a God who comes down from heaven, embodied in Jesus, and sits with us in our tears.  

While our hearts maybe breaking or scared or weak,  

Jesus is there to comfort us, to cry with us,  

and eventually show us the miraculous glory of God.  

So let us pause to share with Jesus our trials, our fears, our losses at this time.  


Jesus weep with me. I am upset about ______. Lord hold me and help me feel your presence. Amen.

Spirituality of Staying Put

Pastoral Reflection by Rev. Kelly Jane Caesar

March 29, 2020

Read: John 11:1-6

Jesus stayed where he was for two days.  

The best thing, at that time, was to stay put. 

Eventually Jesus would go and be with Lazarus,  

but first,  

he stayed home. 

Mary and Martha would be upset, they wanted Jesus there now. 

They not only wanted the Messiah, they wanted their dear friend in this time of sorrow.  

But Jesus knows well that there is a time to go and a time to stay. 

Many of us are feeling the difficulty of staying put. 

We want to help. We want to do. We want to go. Anywhere.  

Yet, the most helpful action we can do is to stay home. 

Some among us must go – Maggie is caring for the children of healthcare workers, Chris is making sure trucks have tires and can deliver food and medical supplies, Jess and Sara are nurses tending to the sick, David is serving as an EMT, Tyler is working for the Manchester Fire Department.  

The most loving thing we can do for those among us on the front lines is to hold back and stay home. 

This is not an easy way to love. This is a congregation that wants to step in and serve, to lend a hand, to help in any way possible. The way to help at this time is to stay put.  

Every time you go out you could catch the virus yourself or unknowingly pass it on to another. 

Every trip out increases the risk of disease and death for yourself, your neighbor, and the most vulnerable among us.   

So, go out once a week for food, otherwise remain home.  

Staying put is a new and challenging spiritual practice for many of us accustomed to doing and going. 

It requires settling into the presence of God, grounding into the core of our beings. 

In the words of the psalm 46, it is a time,  

“To be still and know that I am God.” 

It is a time to hear the voice of God as Elijah did – 

not in the loud earthquake or thunder, but in the silence.  

Not in the crowds or chorus, but in the small, intimate space of family or self.  

It is a time to release our egos and forgo pride, 

In humble service for the greater good, 

and the most vulnerable among us. 

As Christians we are clearly called to love our neighbor, especially the most vulnerable. 

You don’t need me to list all the scriptures and parables of Jesus that point us to this core value. 

Staying put is the most loving action most of us can do right now. 

Whether or not you are high-risk, this virus has severely harmed and killed many people – 

So stay home if you have the privilege and opportunity to do so. 

Each of you is loved by many and no one wants you to get ill. 

Staying home not only shows love for ourselves,  

but it is an act of love for our vulnerable neighbors.   

Even if you do not have symptoms, you can be a carrier – 

So every time you go out and interact with others, you could be transmitting the virus. 

Staying home could be literally saving the lives of our neighbors. 

Staying home is also a way to be in solidarity with those who must be at home. 

No one likes to be “left out” of the party. 

For those of us not providing food or medical care, staying home is the most loving action we can do.  

Staying put requires us to forgo the glory and praise often showered on do-good-ers.  

Often when we do good and help others we receive the joy of seeing them smile and hearing their praise. 

At this time we are called to do good, without the laud and glory. 

To do good and stay put at this time requires the spiritual practice of humility. 

Our individual good deed of staying home will largely go unnoticed;  

for it is only in the collective “staying home” that we will see the blessings of less deaths.  

Jesus commands his disciples to not make a show of their spiritual practices – 

In the New Living Translation of Matthew 6:16: 

“And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get.”  

At this time we are called to the humble service of staying home as much as possible. 

Let us do so in order for the miracle of healing to happen. 

For indeed, Jesus, after the time of staying put, was able to work a miracle.  

Online Church Meeting Thursday Night

Faithful Congregation,

Even though we cannot gather together in person on Sunday morning, we still care for each other and would like to check in.

There will be an “Online Church Meeting” on Thursday, March 19 at 7:00 pm.
This will give you the opportunity to be updated on the church, discuss future church plans, as well as see and hear your friends. 

To call into this meeting on your phone, please call 929-205-6099 and when asked enter the meeting ID 197 095 794#. You do not have a participant ID #, just wait for it to connect. 

To join this meeting online, with the ability to see one another, please go to the church website, which is www.churchcorners.org and click on the link for a ZOOM meeting. ZOOM will need to be set up on your computer ahead of time (takes a couple minutes). If you joined on Sunday, ZOOM is already on your computer. CJ is available (and eager) to offer tech support to any, just text Pastor Kelly Jane’s cell and he will assist.

Also, please note that there will not be an April Columns. The World Health Organization and the government suggestions are changing so rapidly that we cannot make any definite dates or plans, looking ahead. 

Check the church website (www.churchcorners.org) and your church emails regularly. If you know of someone who does not receive emails, please reach out to them with any updated information.

Worship Location Change due to CoronaVirus

Beloved members of the First Congregational Church of East Hartford,

We are a hearty and strong people, and yet at this time large in-person gatherings are a great risk to our overall health. While many of us will fight off the virus if infected, none of us want to inadvertently transmit the virus to a vulnerable loved one. In love for our neighbors and for ourselves, we will not be gathering for in-person congregational worship for the next two Sundays. Instead you are encouraged to join me for an online worship experience at www.churchcorners.org on Sunday at 10:00 am.

This decision comes following the recommendation of our Southern New England Conference Ministers who strongly recommended the suspension of in-person congregational worship for at least the next two week (webinar can be viewed here). This recommendation comes as the World Health Organization declares the Coronavirus a pandemic, the CDC urges social distancing, our President marshals federal aid, schools in our region close, and our Governor places a limit on large gatherings. Our world has not faced a pandemic of this size in over a hundred years, so let us be gracious with our neighbors and leaders as we seek safety for all.

What will happen on Sunday morning?
I invite you to join me for an at home worship experience via online video at 10:00 am on Sunday. There will be a link on the front page of our website: www.ChurchCorners.org This will be a specially designed worship experience for you to partake in at home. CJ will be helping with the tech and maybe you will get to see my cat.

What if I have a prayer request?
Please submit your prayer request online by clicking here. I will share these prayers online on Sunday morning.

What about the worship bulletins and anthems already prepared for this Sunday?
We will join in the worship service originally planned for this Sunday when we can safely gather in the sanctuary again, hopefully on March 29.

What about the Annual Meeting?
The Annual Meeting has been postponed to March 29. We may defer the luncheon and meet immediately following worship in the sanctuary. This will require our Lenten Potluck Luncheon to also be postponed. 

What about activities during the week?
At this time individual groups may decide what they would like to do. Howard, with the trustees, will work with our rental groups. Chris and I will work with the Scouts. Louise is in conversation with the YMCA preschool. 

What extra cleaning will happen?
Howard with the trustees are ensuring extra cleaning of our building

Who can I call with questions?
You can call me on my cell phone: 860-351-7420.
You are also welcome to reach out to our moderator, Chuck Holmes, assistant moderator, Joe Murdzek, or Louise Holmes, Director of Christian Education and Ministry Program Assistant. 

What about those who don’t receive email?
Louise will be calling those who do not receive email. If you know someone who does not regularly check their email, please do reach out to them. 

What will I do now that so many activities are cancelled?!

  1. Social distancing does not need to mean social isolation. Let us continue to connect to one another online and by phone…maybe even with old fashioned letters!
  2. Take this time to delve into a spiritual practice. Check out this article from our conference leaders here.
  3. Sunday’s online worship will address the spiritual challenges/opportunities of this time, so tune in at 10:00 am on Sunday. Www.churchcorners.org

May God grant you the serenity to accept what you cannot change,
The courage to change the things you can,
And the wisdom to know the difference. Amen.

In Christ,
Your Pastor,
Kelly Jane

How and Why to Worship God

Children’s Message by Rev. Kelly Jane Caesar on February 9, 2020

God is always there loving us,  

But we can do things that keep us from seeing God’s love.  

One of those things is rigid adherence to one way of worship.  

In our confession this morning we read together the words of the prophet Isaiah 58:1-12.

God is upset with the people for being so focused on how they worship that they forget to care for one another and their neighbors. 

People worship God in lots of different ways. 

People worship God… 

In buildings with stain glass 

Mid-13th century (Michael D Hill Jr/Sainte Chapel Stained glass I 

Outside in nature 

Silver Lake Hubbell Chapel 

Naples Florida, C3 Church on the Beach 

or Outside on the Street

Common Cathedral Boston MA

Some people praise God…

With arms raised up and lots of loud music 

Repetitive chants 

In silence 

In lines in pews like we have here.

In pews facing each other 

In a circle 

Kneeling on the floor with candles – as in taize in France 

Standing the whole time, like the Christian Orthodox

These are all Christian ways of worship!  

Jews, Muslims, and Hindus have lots of different ways to worship too.  

People worship God in various ways,  

but God care less about how we worship than what we do because we worship. 

Worship done right fuels us to love and care for others.  

Blocking God’s Love

Children’s Moment on February 2, 2020 by Rev. Kelly Jane Caesar

God loves us very much.

Child holding heart symbolizing God’s love

But sometimes we block God’s love and blessings.
Psalm 15 in the Bible tells us some ways in which we block God’s love.

If we lie, we block God’s love. (add block)

If we gossip or talk poorly about someone behind their back,
We block God’s love. (add block)

If we see injustice or bullying on the playground and don’t do anything,
We block God’s love. (add block)

If we don’t keep our promises,
We block God’s love. (add block)

If we lend money or toys and charge interest –
If we are greedy or refuse to share,
We block God’s love. (add block)

Are there other things we can do to block God’s love? (cheat, steal, murder, swear, etc.)

In the church we call these blocks sin.
Sin is anything that blocks us from God’s love.

God is still there. Still loving.

We have put up all these blocks.

To take down the blocks we confess our sins –
We say sorry and really mean it.

Sorry I didn’t share, help me to share better. (remove block)
Sorry I broke my promise, help me to keep my promise. (remove block)
Sorry I was silent when another was being hurt, help me to speak up. (remove block)
Sorry I spoke behind my friend’s back, help me to speak kind words to and about my friends. (remove
Sorry I lied, help me to tell the truth. (remove block)

Look! God is still there. Still loving!

Let’s pray with God now.
Gracious God, thank you for loving us all the time. Remove everything that blocks us from feeling your love and blessings. Amen.

Children all holding heart of God’s love for prayer


Gift from the Food for Thought Group

This congregation has given a gift that perhaps not everyone has had the opportunity to see its fruits. Once a month for over a year now this congregation has provided space, food, and pastoral leadership to a budding group of young adults under 40 years old to explore spiritual matters. The group averages around 12 people every month, with a total of 27 adults participating at some point in the last year. We have called this group “Food for Thought” because we have thoughtful conversations around a meal. It’s a model Jesus started with the 12 disciples at the Last Supper. 

This program of the church has been incredibly meaningful. 

We had a year-end written reflection and I asked, “has food for thought run its course for now and is ready to take a break?” All 12 respondents enthusiastically said NO! Those who participate regularly obviously wanted to continue, but so did those who can only come occasionally, and one respondent who moved away wrote, “even though I cannot participate from afar, I love seeing the photos and seeing people enjoy the church space! It makes me smile.” 

Why such an enthusiastic response? Participants love cooking together, the summer campfires were a great hit, and the special paint night especially fun – but those are all means to a deeper spiritual need for community, friendship, and spiritual discussion.  

When asked “how has Food for Thought helped you grow in your spiritual life?” Respondents shared the deep value in discussing ideas in a small group of similar age people and the new friendships that are forming. One wrote, “it has been impactful for me to spend time with other young adults who share my faith. Most of my friends are not Christian and so it made a difference to not feel alone.”  

To many millennials and people under 40, church is seen, at worst, as unsafe and harmful and, at best, boring and out of date. However, one Food for Thought participant wrote about finding healing through this church group. Food for Thought has provided a safe space for young adults to bond and grow deeper in their faith. As one wrote, “Food for Thought day is something to look forward to and have meaningful conversations. We learn a little something from one another each time.” 

Indeed, I have personally enjoyed this group – they are authentic, honest, vulnerable and incredibly insightful…as well as a ball to hang out with.  

As is probably clear by now, the Food for Thought group has an immense amount of gratitude for the opportunity to come together. So members have each pitched in to offer a “Christmas Gift” to the congregation.

The idea to give this gift came organically from the group, for it truly has touched people in ways words can hardly explain.  So thank you all for supporting the Food for Thought program of the church!

Stand Like a Christmas Tree

Pastor Kelly Jane’s Christmas Tree

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree! You Stand in Splendid Beauty!
Chances are you will have some time to stand this December. Standing in line, waiting to buy that last-minute gift.
Standing for carols or standing in airports.
Standing at the crowed festive party.

So, stand like a Christmas Tree.
Ground your feet.
Soften your knees (too rigid and you topple). Tuck your tailbone and lengthen your spine. Roll the shoulders down.
Let your arms relax down and out to the side,
Just a bit, forming a little triangle shape.

The hustle and bustle of the holidays can threaten to blow us over. Trees, though they sway in the wind, don’t topple down –
When they are well rooted, Deep into the ground.

So, root yourself through the winds of the season.

Ground yourself in the spiritual,
And let your branches spread out in everlasting love.

Thanksgiving Dinner Fills Tummies and Hearts

The Community Thanksgiving Dinner filled many bellies and hearts last Thursday. A record 218 meals were served!

This decades long service of the Church is made possible by many generous people – Clarence & Pam Douglas of the Friendship Center prepare the meal with a league of volunteers, Riverside cooks the Foodshare turkeys in their big ovens, Stop and Shop donated baked goods, and Rich & Abbie Beebe coordinate the whole deal with Cindy & Delilah serving as sextons for the day. The many church members and community members who attend make it a joyous occassion for all. Thanks be to God!